The Cardinals season ended a game shy of the Valley championship in a 22-16 loss
BISHOP – Lindsay was one big play away from making it to the Division V valley championship game. A late fourth quarter touchdown cost them their season as they lost by six points to Bishop Union. They ended their season with a 9-4 record.
It was a tale of two halves for the Cardinals. They were ahead 16-7 in the first half and were dominant in the running game. After some adjustments by the Broncos, the running game struggled in the second half as Lindsay was outscored 15-0. According to head coach Matt Mendonca, his team’s second half struggles to run the ball were the difference in the game.
“Initially upfront we were able to control the game at the line of scrimmage and we really established the running game early on,” Mendonca said. “In the second half we couldn’t match the same physicality that we had in the first half.”
The third quarter was a back and forth defensive battle with the Broncos getting a late touchdown to close out the quarter. They scored again towards the end of the fourth quarter to take the lead. Their defense played well but allowed three big plays that essentially cost them the game. The first came on a nearly 60-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. That score was in response to Lindsay’s long and methodical opening drive that resulted in the game’s first touchdown. The Cardinals scored another touchdown and a field goal to take a nine-point lead heading into halftime.
This was the best season in Mendonca’s five years with the team. In addition to winning the bell back from Strathmore, the team set or tied over 20 program records. Senior Mario Diaz tied the program record for career touchdown receptions and broke the record for kick return yardage. Senior Daniel Trujillo shattered nearly every rushing record for a single season. He earned the most attempts, yards, and touchdowns by any player in Lindsay history. Mendonca believes that if Trujillo didn’t get injured during his junior season, he would have also shattered the career rushing record.
“I told the team that it didn’t matter what we did in playoffs because they turned the program around,” Mendonca said. “The kids established a very high expectation and standard for what our football program can be like.”
Next year’s team will be young as several key pieces will be graduating. The strength of the offense was the running game but they will be losing Trujillo plus four out of five linemen. Their quarterback Randon Gomez is only a junior so he will be back, but he will be without his top target in Garcia. Sophomore Elian Ibarra accounted for five touchdowns this season and he’ll likely be a centerpiece for next year’s squad.